Sea salt around the world has been contaminated by plastic pollution, adding to experts’ fears that microplastics are becoming ubiquitous in the environment and finding their way into the food chain via the salt in our diets ... Some researchers...now believe sea salt could be more vulnerable to plastic contamination because of how it is made, through a process of dehydration of sea water.

A growing body of research has established the presence of microscopic plastic pollution in the world’s oceans, freshwater, soil and air. This study is the first, however, to show plastic contamination in tap water from sources around the world ... The contamination defies geography and income: The number of fibers found in a tap water sample from a washroom sink at the Trump Grill was equal to that found in samples from Quito, Ecuador.

Scientists...in Belgium recently calculated people who eat seafood ingest up to 11,000 tiny pieces of plastic every year. Last August, the results of a study...reported plastic was found in a third of UK-caught fish, including cod, haddock, mackerel and shellfish. Last year, the European Food Safety Authority called for urgent research, citing increasing concern for human health and food safety “given the potential for microplastic pollution in edible tissues of commercial fish”.

Every year thousands of oil and chemical spills occur in waters around the country, but unless you live in a highly impacted area like Louisiana, you probably only hear about a handful of them. That’s partly because the Coast Guard classifies many spills—up to 100,000 gallons—as minor or moderate, and small spills get less of everything: less media attention, less regulation, less environmental impact assessment, and most critically, less funding to clean them up.

Trees only improve air quality in their immediate vicinity, about 100 feet or so. That means cities need to figure out which neighborhoods benefit most from new trees (typically the densest areas, but also areas around hospitals and schools). They also have to plant species that are most effective at trapping pollution (typically those with large leaves ... if water is scarce, they’ll want...drought-tolerant varieties. And they may want to steer clear of trees that increase pollen and allergies.

scientists came to understand that these bigger bits—the bottles and the fishing lines—made up less than half the problem. Ocean plastics were not inert, they realized, nor did they disintegrate and disperse as harmless water dust. Rather, they broke down into tiny pieces of plastic confetti that could soak up toxins and then make their way into the food chain. In other words, the floating coffee cans and old balloons were less of a threat than expansive clouds of plastic micro-garbage.

Researchers studying ways to improve agricultural water quality have shown that we can use a natural process called denitrification to treat subsurface drainage water on farms. It relies on bacteria found in soil around the world to convert nitrate – the form of nitrogen in farm drainage water – to nitrogen gas, which is environmentally benign and makes up more than three-fourths of the air we breathe ... Bioreactors are engineered environments that take advantage of their work on a large scale.

poor rural towns and communities of color often become the dumping ground for our nation’s toxic waste. Residents of affected areas claim state regulators are slow to respond to their complaints—if they do anything at all—because their communities are poor and black. But even when the state health department dispatches a flotilla of epidemiologists to knock on doors, track down former residents, scour medical records and dutifully take samples of air, soil and water, they’re usually stumped.

About 8.5 million people live in Mexico City, and the rest inhabit an endless sprawl that encompasses everything from gated communities to concrete slums. But residents of both rich and poor neighborhoods are often far from their jobs. As soon as any family can afford to buy a car, it does ... Developers erect skyscrapers with a dozen floors reserved for parking ... 42 percent of space in new developments built between 2009 and 2013 was designated for parking.

Every year, air pollution causes the premature deaths of between 5.5 million and 7 million people, making it more deadly than HIV, traffic accidents and diabetes combined. The majority of these deaths—about 4 million—are caused by indoor air pollution, primarily in developing countries. But it takes a toll in developed countries as well. In Europe, for example, air pollution shortens the average life expectancy by nearly one year.